Guest post by Alvina Lopez
One of the best cures for loneliness as an older adult is surrounding yourself with a group of friends who share similar interests to you. Whether your parents live in the same house with you or in an entirely different city from you, consider encouraging them to connect with their local senior center. Senior centers are membership organizations where individuals and couples aged 60 and up (sometimes 50 and up) come together to hang out, eat together and participate in a wide variety of activities.
The senior center in my small home town of about 6,000 people is small but very active. The center itself is home to a number of activities, including potluck meals together on a certain weekday each week, domino and card game tournaments, and two-stepping, square dancing, line dancing and live music on the weekends provided by the group’s more musical members. Two to three times a week, a group of members come together to take fitness classes together.
Periodically, a group of people from the senior center organizes a Greyhound bus ride to different road trips both daytrips and overnight stays. The more people that sign up, the cheaper the bus fare and hotel costs. Their trips together include weekends gambling at the casinos in Louisiana, trips to Branson, Missouri to see plays, and longer trips to lodges in Colorado.
A group of able-bodied women get together to knit lap blankets for the less able-bodied residents of a nearby nursing home, as well as knit blankets for people in the nearby veteran’s hospital. Many members of the senior center also participate in the town’s nonprofit efforts, such as Pink Santa, where they gather Christmas gifts for needy children in the community each December. Because the senior center is the hub for older adults in the city, they are always in-the-know of what is going on and maintain a presence in city parades, neighborhood clean-ups, serve as school mentors and help fundraise for various causes. Participation in these causes help retirees find a sense of fulfillment now that they have ample spare time to serve in their communities.
Last but not least, a church group meets in the senior center in my home town on Sunday mornings. While members aren’t required to attend and people of all ages are welcome, the group primarily consists of older adults who share each other’s’ faith.
If this is what’s available in a small town of only 6,000 people, imagine the programs and activities for older adults that could be available in your town or your parents’ town! Encourage your parent(s) to look up their local senior center, and if they’re not Internet-savvy, be willing to do some of the legwork for them, such as looking for their local senior center online or making some calls to the city or the local chamber of commerce to ask about a senior center. The friendships they build and the happiness they gain will be well worth the effort.
Alvina Lopez is a freelance writer and blog junkie, who blogs about accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at her email Id: firstname.lastname@example.org.